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‘I Told Her, ‘I Want to be With You All the Time, Will You Marry Me?’

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By Je’Don Holloway Talley

Special to The Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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CARL HILL SR. AND IDA TYREE-HYCHE HILL

Live:  Gardendale

Married:  Aug. 8, 2019

Met: As co-workers in the spring of 1986 while working for the 81st Regional Support Command in Birmingham where both were civilian servants working for the US government and soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserve. Both were married and had their own families during their 20-year work relationship and became best friends. In 2018, Ida lost her husband, the Rev. Albert L. Hyche to cancer and Carl had been divorced since 2012. In January 2019, the two went to dinner and

that night, Ida said Carl “got half tipsy and was looking at me crazy and acting all nervous. When I got home, I called my [best friend] and I told her, ‘Carl asked me to go out to dinner and we went, and then all of a sudden he started acting like he was with a stranger like he was nervous …’, and she said, ‘girl, he may be seeing you differently now’ [since becoming widowed] and I said, ‘that’s crazy, how is he gonna be looking at me differently? ‘he’s my best friend?’’ Then the next time we went out to eat, this time it was me acting nervous,” she laughed.

“A bunch of female attorneys that I know came in and was sitting at the other table and and I started thinking ‘Oh my goodness, I’m here with Carl and they’re going to think I’m cheating on my husband, do they know my husband is dead?’,” Ida recalled.

“Then she started acting like we were out cheating,” Carl laughed.

Carl, who had been divorced since 2012, had yet to let Ida know about his feelings and the two carried on as friends, and he continued to be there for her as she grieved. One Sunday morning following her husband’s passing in 2018, Ida said she called Carl for support on her way to service at Payne Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Birmingham, which happened to be near Zion Star Missionary Baptist Church in Titusville, where Carl pastored.

“He told me to come by his church…, and I get there and he’s standing outside waiting for me and walks me into his office, and I said ‘You’re the pastor and church is about to start, I should go’, and he said ‘No, I have to see about you, you’re crying and I need to make sure you’re ok’.

“And I started crying again and he held me, and then he started saying, ‘Are you okay baby? It’s going to be okay, baby’, and every time he said ‘baby’ I’m hearing it play back in my ear and I stopped crying and pushed him away and said ‘Carl, why are you calling me baby?’,” Ida laughed. “And he [denied it]… and I just left and went to church.”

Ida was unsure of how they could transition from their longstanding friendship into a romantic one, “We had been friends for 24 years, and those series of dinners sparked a lot of wonderful conversations, and the chemistry grew,” Carl said.

First date: Carl and Ida don’t consider any of their previous dinners to be ‘dates’, and said that their first official date didn’t happen until Valentine’s Day 2019. Carl took Ida to a jazz shop in Bessemer called The Art of Jazz where they painted canvases as they listened to jazz music.

“Both of us were overwhelmed with a lot of things and we needed a relaxing moment, and you go there [The Art of Jazz] and you pick a canvas and you listen to jazz, and talk as you paint your picture. It’s really relaxing, and that night we talked and laughed and we discovered ‘us.’ We saw each other as man and woman and not best friends,” Carl said.

“That night was magical,” said Ida. “You know how you read stories about magical nights? I experienced one, it was about connecting with someone you knew as a best friend and seeing him for the first time as a man that you’re possibly falling in love with.”

The turn: The following week. “The conversations became ‘what’s going on with us? And ‘we’ became an ‘us’,” Carl said.

“That April I went out of the country to Dubai, I was gone for a week and Carl was miserable while I was gone, and so was I…,” Ida said. “…everywhere I went I wished I was there with him and could’ve shared the experience with him instead of a bunch of women. That let me know I had fallen in love with him. And when I got back he proposed. He said, ‘never again will she go out of the country without me,’” Ida laughed.

The proposal: May 2019, in Rosemary Beach, Florida. “We had decided to take a quiet trip because we wanted to get away. We were walking down the beach just talking and it was almost out of the blue how [I proposed] because I had to build up enough nerve to ask her. I kinda caught her off guard and I said, ‘Ida, I don’t want to be without you, I want to be with you all the time, will you marry me?’ and she smiled and said ‘Yes’,” said Carl.

“I was kind of expecting it because of the way he was acting when I went to Dubai… And when I said, ‘yes,’ I said, ‘let’s do it right away.’ He’s a clergyman, and I wanted everything to be right. I didn’t want to do a lot of dating that anybody could be critical of, so I was ready to get married and seal the deal,” Ida said.

The wedding: At Payne Chapel AME Church, in Titusville officiated by its pastor, Reverend Nicole Slater and Bishop Harry L. Seawright of the AME Churches in Alabama. The couple’s colors were pink, white, and purple.

Most memorable for the bride were a few mishaps the morning of her wedding. Her makeup artist ran late, and once finished Ida and her daughter ran into an accident on the interstate on the way to the church causing Ida to be 45 minutes late to her wedding.

“The pastor [Nicole Slater] called me and said, ‘If you don’t get here the wedding will start without you’ … I responded with haste! …and then when I got there and was getting into my dress and finally realized ‘How can the wedding start without me, who will walk down the aisle?’,” Ida laughed. “When I marched down that aisle and I saw that church full of friends and loved ones, all of the anxiety left me and I felt nothing but exuberance,” she said.

Most memorable for the groom was also Ida’s tardiness. “The bride was late so the groom was nervous,” Carl laughed. “They [the officiants] had me pretty calm, Bishop Seawright was talking to me, so I was ok.”

They honeymooned in Charleston, South Carolina. “My husband is a history buff, and now I’m a semi-history buff [so we chose to go] someplace historical…,” Ida said. “There is so much African American history in Charleston, you would be amazed and proud to be a benefactor of that history. It wasn’t about staying in bed, it was about seeing and learning new things. It was a great experience.”

“We said we want to go back for our 5th anniversary because when we went they were building a new monument, and now that it’s finished we want to go back and see it,” Carl said.

Words of wisdom: Whether “young, middle-aged, or old, I would say to become friends and communicate,” Carl said. “Talk about everything, talk things through because you’d be surprised what you find out about one another. And by being friends first and then falling in love those [qualities] married well together. Even though we’ve been best friends for over 20 years, we’re still finding out new things about each other. Learn and grow together.”

“I ditto that. To be able to have a friendship that transformed into love is a benefit. Be more than just husband and wife. If your spouse can be considered your best friend that means they’re someone you can share emotions with whether they’re good or bad, and if you disagree you already know how to reason with one another and overcome obstacles. I told Carl that I always want to have my best friend, I want to be your wife and still be your best friend too,” Ida said.

Ida also has a message for women of God who are widowed first ladies.

“There are so many women out there, especially women who were previously a first lady, who are afraid of the rumors, or that people will think you weren’t loyal to their husbands. The Lord knows all, and that’s all that matters. Pray and ask for discernment and ask the Lord to make sure you’re not making decisions with a broken heart. Don’t be afraid to listen and follow the holy spirit. Everything happens in God’s timing. Also, don’t try to rush it. Be in tune and let God guide you…,” said Ida.

Happily ever after: Carl pastors Zion Star Missionary Baptist Church in Titusville, and they are a blended family with four adult children: Felicia, Carl Jr., Shade’, and Bianca whose ages range from 35-39.

Ida, 72, is a Tuscaloosa native, and Druid High School [Tuscaloosa] grad. She attended Stillman College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and is a member of Alpha Kappa Sorority Inc. Ida attended Birmingham School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctorate and retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5) after 35 years. She works as an attorney at Tyree Hyche and Dixon, LLC in Birmingham, and Atlanta, Georgia, which she co-owns and runs with her daughter, attorney Shade’ Dixon who runs the ATL office. Ida is also a published author, and wrote the book ‘Bar Studies Inspiration’, a social justice advocate & volunteer; and has a YouTube show called TYREETALK ™.

Carl, 70, is a Powderly native, and Wenonah High School grad. He attended Tennessee State University where he earned a bachelor’s in psychology; Birmingham Baptist College, where he obtained a Bachelor of Theology degree; Alabama State University, where he received a master’s in counseling; and Argosy University [Sarasota, Florida], where he earned a doctorate of education in pastoral counseling. Carl retired from the Space and Missile Defense Command after 24 years in government service, and the U.S. Army Reserves as a sergeant major after 28 years.

https://www.gusterlawfirm.com/